I stumbled across this quote recently after being led to the work of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I likely was led here having spent a great deal of time recently learning about robustness as it relates to physical activity preparation and injury prevention. Robust is simply defined as being strong and healthy. Don't we all want and need more of that in our own lives? I know that I do and thus it has been a recent exploration of mine to find out how I can be a stronger and healthier version of myself.
After looking into more about Taleb, I found that out that he is the author of several books, including Antifragile, which is the particular work that is quoted above. Taleb explains that many things in life benefit from exposure to stress, disorder/chaos, volatility, and turmoil. Taleb has been credited with identifying and adopting the term "antifragile” to describe this quality. He further explains that there are things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.
I can't help but think of ol' Wolff's Law. This is the concept that essentially describes the process in healthy animal bone whereby the structural qualities of any particular bone will adapt to the forces and loads under which it is placed. This is, in its simplest form, an example of antifragility. This doesn't only happen in bone but in all of our body's connective tissues including tendons, muscles, ligaments, and fascia. All that is required for this to occur is physical loading or physical forces. It is simple to understand this being on a continuum. If we look at the lowest end of the force applied, such that we prevent our bones and connective tissues from having any amount of physical loading, they will become weak and brittle leaving these tissues prone to fracture and acute injury. If we load them appropriately and with an optimum amount of physical loads and forces then we are then allowing adaptation to take place that will result in stronger, healthier, and more resilient tissues. If we want to get better (not stay the same) or improve our capacity we need to go even further by increasing the physical stress.
The old adage "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" seems fitting in this situation. Though I would be willing to change/add a few words and say something like "Any maximal physical loading or forces that are taken on by you and your tissues that do not injure you and your tissues makes you and your tissues less likely to get injured when taking on comparable physical forces". The bottom line is that our bodies need to be exposed to physical stress and forces in order for them to adapt, survive, and flourish. Without exposure to physical stress and forces we become weak and wilt. You need to literally use it or you will literally lose it when it comes to physical activity and nothing can be more true.